Author Ethan Mordden returns to discuss his new book Anything Goes: A History of American Musical Theatre. Mordden tracks the history of musical theater from John Gay's The Beggar's Opera in 1728, through the integrated operettas by Gilbert & Sullivan and Victor Hugo, as well as hybrid Twentieth Century musicals with more serious themes like Show Boat and Oklahoma. He talks about classic shows like Gypsy and Chicago where the vision of the director/choreographer is dominant, and he explains why the name for "musical comedies" was changed to just "musicals," when the form became more serious. In the early days, Mordden tells us, "You could not open if you didn't have gags, jokes and fun." Nowadays directors don't like the gag tone... "They want everything organic and (to come) out of the character."
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Episode #702 / Length: 26 minutes